A proverb a day to order your public life...

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Proverbs 21

1 Good leadership is a channel of water controlled by God;
    he directs it to whatever ends he chooses.

We justify our actions by appearances;
    God examines our motives.

Clean living before God and justice with our neighbors
    mean far more to God than religious performance.

Arrogance and pride—distinguishing marks in the wicked—
    are just plain sin.

Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run;
    hurry and scurry puts you further behind.

Make it to the top by lying and cheating;
    get paid with smoke and a promotion—to death!

The wicked get buried alive by their loot
    because they refuse to use it to help others.

Mixed motives twist life into tangles;
    pure motives take you straight down the road.

Do Your Best, Prepare for the Worst

Better to live alone in a tumbledown shack
    than share a mansion with a nagging spouse.

10 Wicked souls love to make trouble;
    they feel nothing for friends and neighbors.

11 Simpletons only learn the hard way,
    but the wise learn by listening.

12 A God-loyal person will see right through the wicked
    and undo the evil they’ve planned.

13 If you stop your ears to the cries of the poor,
    your cries will go unheard, unanswered.

14 A quietly given gift soothes an irritable person;
    a heartfelt present cools a hot temper.

15 Good people celebrate when justice triumphs,
    but for the workers of evil it’s a bad day.

16 Whoever wanders off the straight and narrow
    ends up in a congregation of ghosts.

17 You’re addicted to thrills? What an empty life!
    The pursuit of pleasure is never satisfied.

18 What a bad person plots against the good, boomerangs;
    the plotter gets it in the end.

19 Better to live in a tent in the wild
    than with a cross and petulant spouse.

20 Valuables are safe in a wise person’s home;
    fools put it all out for yard sales.

21 Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind
    finds life itself—glorious life!

22 One sage entered a whole city of armed soldiers—
    their trusted defenses fell to pieces!

23 Watch your words and hold your tongue;
    you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

24 You know their names—Brash, Impudent, Blasphemer—
    intemperate hotheads, every one.

25 Lazy people finally die of hunger
    because they won’t get up and go to work.

26 Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have;
    the God-loyal are always giving what they do have.

27 Religious performance by the wicked stinks;
    it’s even worse when they use it to get ahead.

28 A lying witness is unconvincing;
    a person who speaks truth is respected.

29 Unscrupulous people fake it a lot;
    honest people are sure of their steps.

30 Nothing clever, nothing conceived, nothing contrived,
    can get the better of God.

31 Do your best, prepare for the worst—
    then trust God to bring victory.

Psalm 103 

A David Psalm

1-2 O my soul, bless God.
    From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!
O my soul, bless God,
    don’t forget a single blessing!

3-5 He forgives your sins—every one.
    He heals your diseases—every one.
    He redeems you from hell—saves your life!
    He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.
    He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.
    He renews your youth—you’re always young in his presence.

6-18 God makes everything come out right;
    he puts victims back on their feet.
He showed Moses how he went about his work,
    opened up his plans to all Israel.
God is sheer mercy and grace;
    not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
    nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
    nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
    so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
    he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
    God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.
Men and women don’t live very long;
    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,
But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,
    leaving nothing to show they were here.
God’s love, though, is ever and always,
    eternally present to all who fear him,
Making everything right for them and their children
    as they follow his Covenant ways
    and remember to do whatever he said.

19-22 God has set his throne in heaven;
    he rules over us all. He’s the King!
So bless God, you angels,
    ready and able to fly at his bidding,
    quick to hear and do what he says.
Bless God, all you armies of angels,
    alert to respond to whatever he wills.
Bless God, all creatures, wherever you are—
    everything and everyone made by God.

And you, O my soul, bless God!

Psalm 104 

1-14 O my soul, bless God!

God, my God, how great you are!
    beautifully, gloriously robed,
Dressed up in sunshine,
    and all heaven stretched out for your tent.
You built your palace on the ocean deeps,
    made a chariot out of clouds and took off on wind-wings.
You commandeered winds as messengers,
    appointed fire and flame as ambassadors.
You set earth on a firm foundation
    so that nothing can shake it, ever.
You blanketed earth with ocean,
    covered the mountains with deep waters;
Then you roared and the water ran away—
    your thunder crash put it to flight.
Mountains pushed up, valleys spread out
    in the places you assigned them.
You set boundaries between earth and sea;
    never again will earth be flooded.
You started the springs and rivers,
    sent them flowing among the hills.
All the wild animals now drink their fill,
    wild donkeys quench their thirst.
Along the riverbanks the birds build nests,
    ravens make their voices heard.
You water the mountains from your heavenly cisterns;
    earth is supplied with plenty of water.
You make grass grow for the livestock,
    hay for the animals that plow the ground.

14-23 Oh yes, God brings grain from the land,
    wine to make people happy,
Their faces glowing with health,
    a people well-fed and hearty.
God’s trees are well-watered—
    the Lebanon cedars he planted.
Birds build their nests in those trees;
    look—the stork at home in the treetop.
Mountain goats climb about the cliffs;
    badgers burrow among the rocks.
The moon keeps track of the seasons,
    the sun is in charge of each day.
When it’s dark and night takes over,
    all the forest creatures come out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
    clamoring to God for their supper.
When the sun comes up, they vanish,
    lazily stretched out in their dens.
Meanwhile, men and women go out to work,
    busy at their jobs until evening.

24-30 What a wildly wonderful world, God!
    You made it all, with Wisdom at your side,
    made earth overflow with your wonderful creations.
Oh, look—the deep, wide sea,
    brimming with fish past counting,
    sardines and sharks and salmon.
Ships plow those waters,
    and Leviathan, your pet dragon, romps in them.
All the creatures look expectantly to you
    to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around;
    you open your hand and they eat from it.
If you turned your back,
    they’d die in a minute—
Take back your Spirit and they die,
    revert to original mud;
Send out your Spirit and they spring to life—
    the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

31-32 The glory of God—let it last forever!
    Let God enjoy his creation!
He takes one look at earth and triggers an earthquake,
    points a finger at the mountains, and volcanoes erupt.

33-35 Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,
    sing hymns to my God as long as I live!
Oh, let my song please him;
    I’m so pleased to be singing to God.
But clear the ground of sinners—
    no more godless men and women!

O my soul, bless God!

Psalm 105 

1-6 Hallelujah!

Thank God! Pray to him by name!
    Tell everyone you meet what he has done!
Sing him songs, belt out hymns,
    translate his wonders into music!
Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs,
    you who seek God. Live a happy life!
Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;
    be alert for signs of his presence.
Remember the world of wonders he has made,
    his miracles, and the verdicts he’s rendered—
        O seed of Abraham, his servant,
        O child of Jacob, his chosen.

7-15 He’s God, our God,
    in charge of the whole earth.
And he remembers, remembers his Covenant—
    for a thousand generations he’s been as good as his word.
It’s the Covenant he made with Abraham,
    the same oath he swore to Isaac,
The very statute he established with Jacob,
    the eternal Covenant with Israel,
Namely, “I give you the land.
    Canaan is your hill-country inheritance.”
When they didn’t count for much,
    a mere handful, and strangers at that,
Wandering from country to country,
    drifting from pillar to post,
He permitted no one to abuse them.
    He told kings to keep their hands off:
“Don’t you dare lay a hand on my anointed,
    don’t hurt a hair on the heads of my prophets.”

16-22 Then he called down a famine on the country,
    he broke every last blade of wheat.
But he sent a man on ahead:
    Joseph, sold as a slave.
They put cruel chains on his ankles,
    an iron collar around his neck,
Until God’s word came to the Pharaoh,
    and God confirmed his promise.
God sent the king to release him.
    The Pharaoh set Joseph free;
He appointed him master of his palace,
    put him in charge of all his business
To personally instruct his princes
    and train his advisors in wisdom.

23-42 Then Israel entered Egypt,
    Jacob immigrated to the Land of Ham.
God gave his people lots of babies;
    soon their numbers alarmed their foes.
He turned the Egyptians against his people;
    they abused and cheated God’s servants.
Then he sent his servant Moses,
    and Aaron, whom he also chose.
They worked marvels in that spiritual wasteland,
    miracles in the Land of Ham.
He spoke, “Darkness!” and it turned dark—
    they couldn’t see what they were doing.
He turned all their water to blood
    so that all their fish died;
He made frogs swarm through the land,
    even into the king’s bedroom;
He gave the word and flies swarmed,
    gnats filled the air.
He substituted hail for rain,
    he stabbed their land with lightning;
He wasted their vines and fig trees,
    smashed their groves of trees to splinters;
With a word he brought in locusts,
    millions of locusts, armies of locusts;
They consumed every blade of grass in the country
    and picked the ground clean of produce;
He struck down every firstborn in the land,
    the first fruits of their virile powers.
He led Israel out, their arms filled with loot,
    and not one among his tribes even stumbled.
Egypt was glad to have them go—
    they were scared to death of them.
God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day
    and a fire to light their way through the night;
They prayed and he brought quail,
    filled them with the bread of heaven;
He opened the rock and water poured out;
    it flowed like a river through that desert—
All because he remembered his Covenant,
    his promise to Abraham, his servant.

43-45 Remember this! He led his people out singing for joy;
    his chosen people marched, singing their hearts out!
He made them a gift of the country they entered,
    helped them seize the wealth of the nations
So they could do everything he told them—
    could follow his instructions to the letter.

Hallelujah!

Psalm 106 

1-3 Hallelujah!
Thank God! And why?
    Because he’s good, because his love lasts.
But who on earth can do it—
    declaim God’s mighty acts, broadcast all his praises?
You’re one happy man when you do what’s right,
    one happy woman when you form the habit of justice.

4-5 Remember me, God, when you enjoy your people;
    include me when you save them;
I want to see your chosen succeed,
    celebrate with your celebrating nation,
    join the Hallelujahs of your pride and joy!

6-12 We’ve sinned a lot, both we and our parents;
    We’ve fallen short, hurt a lot of people.
After our parents left Egypt,
    they took your wonders for granted,
    forgot your great and wonderful love.
They were barely beyond the Red Sea
    when they defied the High God
    —the very place he saved them!
    —the place he revealed his amazing power!
He rebuked the Red Sea so that it dried up on the spot
    —he paraded them right through!
    —no one so much as got wet feet!
He saved them from a life of oppression,
    pried them loose from the grip of the enemy.
Then the waters flowed back on their oppressors;
    there wasn’t a single survivor.
Then they believed his words were true
    and broke out in songs of praise.

13-18 But it wasn’t long before they forgot the whole thing,
    wouldn’t wait to be told what to do.
They only cared about pleasing themselves in that desert,
    provoked God with their insistent demands.
He gave them exactly what they asked for—
    but along with it they got an empty heart.
One day in camp some grew jealous of Moses,
    also of Aaron, holy priest of God.
The ground opened and swallowed Dathan,
    then buried Abiram’s gang.
Fire flared against that rebel crew
    and torched them to a cinder.

19-22 They cast in metal a bull calf at Horeb
    and worshiped the statue they’d made.
They traded the Glory
    for a cheap piece of sculpture—a grass-chewing bull!
They forgot God, their very own Savior,
    who turned things around in Egypt,
Who created a world of wonders in the Land of Ham,
    who gave that stunning performance at the Red Sea.

23-27 Fed up, God decided to get rid of them—
    and except for Moses, his chosen, he would have.
But Moses stood in the gap and deflected God’s anger,
    prevented it from destroying them utterly.
They went on to reject the Blessed Land,
    didn’t believe a word of what God promised.
They found fault with the life they had
    and turned a deaf ear to God’s voice.
Exasperated, God swore
    that he’d lay them low in the desert,
Scattering their children hither and yon,
    strewing them all over the earth.

28-31 Then they linked up with Baal Peor,
    attending funeral banquets and eating idol food.
That made God so angry
    that a plague spread through their ranks;
Phinehas stood up and pled their case
    and the plague was stopped.
This was counted to his credit;
    his descendants will never forget it.

32-33 They angered God again at Meribah Springs;
    this time Moses got mixed up in their evil;
Because they defied God yet again,
    Moses exploded and lost his temper.

34-39 They didn’t wipe out those godless cultures
    as ordered by God;
Instead they intermarried with the heathen,
    and in time became just like them.
They worshiped their idols,
    were caught in the trap of idols.
They sacrificed their sons and daughters
    at the altars of demon gods.
They slit the throats of their babies,
    murdered their infant girls and boys.
They offered their babies to Canaan’s gods;
    the blood of their babies stained the land.
Their way of life stank to high heaven;
    they lived like whores.

40-43 And God was furious—a wildfire anger;
    he couldn’t stand even to look at his people.
He turned them over to the heathen
    so that the people who hated them ruled them.
Their enemies made life hard for them;
    they were tyrannized under that rule.
Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned—
    until finally their sins destroyed them.

44-46 Still, when God saw the trouble they were in
    and heard their cries for help,
He remembered his Covenant with them,
    and, immense with love, took them by the hand.
He poured out his mercy on them
    while their captors looked on, amazed.

47 Save us, God, our God!
    Gather us back out of exile
So we can give thanks to your holy name
    and join in the glory when you are praised!

48 Blessed be God, Israel’s God!
Bless now, bless always!
Oh! Let everyone say Amen!
Hallelujah!

Psalm 107 

107 1-3 Oh, thank God—he’s so good!
    His love never runs out.
All of you set free by God, tell the world!
    Tell how he freed you from oppression,
Then rounded you up from all over the place,
    from the four winds, from the seven seas.

4-9 Some of you wandered for years in the desert,
    looking but not finding a good place to live,
Half-starved and parched with thirst,
    staggering and stumbling, on the brink of exhaustion.
Then, in your desperate condition, you called out to God.
    He got you out in the nick of time;
He put your feet on a wonderful road
    that took you straight to a good place to live.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
He poured great draughts of water down parched throats;
    the starved and hungry got plenty to eat.

10-16 Some of you were locked in a dark cell,
    cruelly confined behind bars,
Punished for defying God’s Word,
    for turning your back on the High God’s counsel—
A hard sentence, and your hearts so heavy,
    and not a soul in sight to help.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    he got you out in the nick of time.
He led you out of your dark, dark cell,
    broke open the jail and led you out.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
He shattered the heavy jailhouse doors,
    he snapped the prison bars like matchsticks!

17-22 Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life,
    your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food,
    so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you,
    that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices,
    tell the world what he’s done—sing it out!

23-32 Some of you set sail in big ships;
    you put to sea to do business in faraway ports.
Out at sea you saw God in action,
    saw his breathtaking ways with the ocean:
With a word he called up the wind—
    an ocean storm, towering waves!
You shot high in the sky, then the bottom dropped out;
    your hearts were stuck in your throats.
You were spun like a top, you reeled like a drunk,
    you didn’t know which end was up.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition;
    he got you out in the nick of time.
He quieted the wind down to a whisper,
    put a muzzle on all the big waves.
And you were so glad when the storm died down,
    and he led you safely back to harbor.
So thank God for his marvelous love,
    for his miracle mercy to the children he loves.
Lift high your praises when the people assemble,
    shout Hallelujah when the elders meet!

33-41 God turned rivers into wasteland,
    springs of water into sunbaked mud;
Luscious orchards became alkali flats
    because of the evil of the people who lived there.
Then he changed wasteland into fresh pools of water,
    arid earth into springs of water,
Brought in the hungry and settled them there;
    they moved in—what a great place to live!
They sowed the fields, they planted vineyards,
    they reaped a bountiful harvest.
He blessed them and they prospered greatly;
    their herds of cattle never decreased.
But abuse and evil and trouble declined
    as he heaped scorn on princes and sent them away.
He gave the poor a safe place to live,
    treated their clans like well-cared-for sheep.

42-43 Good people see this and are glad;
    bad people are speechless, stopped in their tracks.
If you are really wise, you’ll think this over—
    it’s time you appreciated God’s deep love.

The Message Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson